The easing of visa requirements for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants this week is being hailed as a positive step toward immigration reform in the United States, The Washington Post reports
The rule change by the Obama Administration makes it less complicated for undocumented immigrants to remain in the country as they seek permanent residency status.
It focuses on illegal immigrants who have a spouse, parent, or child who is a United States citizen.
In order to become legal at the moment, they must leave the country and then apply for a waiver that forgives their illegal presence here — a waiver that, if accepted, allows them to apply for an immigrant visa.
If the waiver is rejected, they are banned from returning to the United States for up to 10 years.
The new rule reduces the risk in applying for a waiver and possibly being ousted upon its rejection.
To qualify under the new rule, an illegal immigrant must simply demonstrate that being separated from family would equal an “extreme hardship” for his or her relatives.
Advocates of immigration reform are hopeful Republicans will support ongoing immigration policy changes in the wake of Obama’s second-term victory thanks, in part, to huge support from Latino voters.
Frank Sharry, executive director of pro-reform group America’s Voice told The Post that immigration changes which began last year have marked a “turning point.”
“[They] not only rallied Latinos and progressives but won the favor of swing voters and threw Republicans on the defensive,” Sharry said. “All of a sudden Obama was getting kudos for the political moves.”
The newspaper says the Obama Administration’s immigration moves come “even as the White House gears up for an uncertain political fight over a far-more-sweeping legislative package in the months ahead.’’
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